March 19, 2019

Pakistan- The best kept tourism secret in the world

By Ambassador Jauhar Saleem, Head of Mission of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan to the Federal Republic of Germany

The tourism sector is considered as one of the largest economic sectors in the world. It is also regarded as the most important economic activity in many developed economies of the world due to the opportunities it offers in creating employment and augmenting the foreign exchange earnings of the country.

Pakistan is home to some of the world’s oldest civilizations, i.e. Mehergarh, Gandhara and Indus valley (Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa). It is also endowed with potentially rich tourism attractions, which stretch from the mighty Karakorams/Hindukush in the North to the vast alluvial delta of the Indus River in the South. We are also blessed with a rich and varied flora and fauna. Gilgit-Baltistan, for instance, is one of the most spectacular regions in the world in terms of its geography and scenic beauty. Here world’s three mightiest mountain ranges: the Karakoram, the Hindkush and the Himalayas meet, rendering it a paradise for mountaineers, trekkers and anglers. Besides the numerous peaks above 8,000 meters in these mighty mountain ranges, alpine meadows, the vast Indus plain, the great desert, the coastline and wetlands are an addition to Pakistan’s beauty.

Besides mountain/adventure and Archaeological tourism, Pakistan also offers Religious/faith tourism and conventional/cultural tourism. Pakistan is also home to several places of great attraction for Hindu, Buddhist and Sikh people. Gurdwaras at Nankana Sahib and Hasan Abdal are a great attraction for Sikhs all over the world.

In recent years, Pakistan has largely been unable to attract attention of international tourists to the degree its tourist attractions merit despite its rich history, treasured heritage, impressive landscapes and unique cultural diversity. The key hurdle in the realization of its tourism is the continuous flow of lopsided media reports about Pakistan and lack of information about its tourist attractions.

In last few years, more than 1.7 million foreigners have visited Pakistan annually, which shows a remarkable increase in the ratio of tourists’ influx. By the year 2025, the tourism sector is expected to contribute Pak Rs. 1 trillion, equivalent to approx. US $ 7 billion, to Pakistan’s economy.

With the growing focus on developing Pakistan’s tourism industry, the present government has announced visa on arrival policy, to be implemented in near future, for the citizens of 50 countries which include Austria, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and Spain. Moreover, IATA approved tour operators have also been allowed to bring tourist groups to Pakistan. In order to further facilitate the tourists visiting Pakistan, the government has eased the previous policies which could restrict the tourist’s movements in Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Jammu & Kashmir areas.

With the increased efforts by the government, Pakistan’s profile in the global tourism sector is going up fast with various tourism, media organizations, and travelers now figuring it among the world’s top tourist destinations. Be it Forbes, the global media company, British Backpacker Society, solo travelers or bloggers, all are in unanimity to believe Pakistan is fast becoming a tourism hub with its changing geo-strategic situation, improvement in the internal security environment and more importantly the liberalization of tourists’ visa policy.

The rapid rise in economic activity, particularly under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), and the consequent enhancement of world’s interest in the country for investment, has also cast encouraging impact on country’s dwindling tourism industry. Based on the improving ranking amid positive observations by various organizations and foreign travellers, we are confident that Pakistan will emerge as a popular international tourist destination in coming years.

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